And so the series finale arrives with yet another lengthy dream sequence as an opener. It’s not the first time Rescue Me has utilized the technique, and just like every show that has ever employed the technique, it doesn’t work. It didn’t work as the 3rd season opener of Nip/Tuck, which supposedly featured a funeral service for Christian Troy, nor did it work for Pam as she dreamt the entire 8th season of Dallas.
I was excited at first about the prospect that the entire crew of Truck 62 perished except Lou. Just Lou left to deal with the fallout to the brass and to the families, that would’ve have been an awesome (if somewhat depressing) way to end the show, but also wholly appropriate considering the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is nearly upon us and a harrowing reminder that any given day of a firefighter’s life holds absolutely no guarantees. But maybe, that’d be too cynical, even by Rescue Me standards. And so we get a quick scene of Tommy eye’s shooting open after a nap on the couch before cutting to the first commercial break. Cue mild annoyance.
But afterwards, what we are left with is an assortment of different scenes, some somber, some retaining the series’ trademark locker room humor, all of which come across in a somewhat uneven mishmash of a finale. Here’s an example: Tommy reads Lou’s letter at the funeral to everyone (serious), Tommy attempts to be a super-dad and gets into an altercation with other parents at the park(funny), Tommy’s recollection of what really happened after that explosion and discovering Lou’s grisly corpse (serious), and then again Garrity dropping his shorts to retrieve some ash (funny again).
And while I admit that Lou’s ashes getting scattered around the car was funny, along with the addition of Duncan Hines red velvet mix to reconstitute what was lost, I could not help but think of Donny’s eventual end in The Big Lebowski. I’m not suggesting that Denis Leary and Peter Tolan outright stole the concept, but I think anyone would have a hard time following up any sort of cremation disposal scene without conjuring images of Walt and The Dude atop a windy hill over the ocean. I also did like the element of Lou’s revelation in the letter that he was on ‘borrowed time’ anyway, making his death all the more appropriate given his profession and the timing.
The other major story element to receive a wrap-up is Janet’s giving birth in the home, causing Tommy to faint, thereby losing yet another bet. This aspect of the episode didn’t really hit me too hard, and just felt tacked on to fill a good 5 minutes of screen time just because. I was also put off by Janet’s reverse insistence that Tommy rejoin the FDNY; just because he’s a lousy babysitter doesn’t mean a character as stubborn as hers would ever betray herself like that in an impulsive, aw-shucks kind of way like that.
One thread that was completely ignored in the finale was that of Chief Feinberg’s possible senility. It was only introduced just this season, and all but forgotten here. I think the best scene that summarizes the tone of the show overall would be the very last one featuring a conversation between Tommy and a deceased Lou, following a commencement address by Tommy to new FDNY recruits. There we get one last scene of ball-busting camaraderie that both grounded Rescue Me in reality that really drove the show in the first place. It’s a short scene and by the end there’s a renewed element of hope as Tommy drives off that this is only the beginning of many conversations to come.
Final Grade: B
TRR TV Revue by Jacob Aquino